North Carolina and Mississippi recently recorded their first pediatric flu deaths of the 2023-2024 flu season. Additionally, North Carolina reported five flu-associated deaths in adults. In response, state health officials have called for parents to vaccinate their children against the flu and other respiratory illnesses and have provided guidance to prevent infections. Social media users are commenting on articles about flu deaths and vaccine guidelines, falsely claiming that flu vaccines led to these deaths. Others are claiming that reports of flu-related deaths are a scare tactic to encourage vaccination.
Risk level: Medium
Recommendation: Though the comments are relatively few in number, lessening the risk, these types of online conversations may promote vaccine hesitancy in the midst of respiratory virus season. It is recommended that doctors in North Carolina and Mississippi be prepared for questions about flu vaccine safety. Messaging may emphasize that adverse reactions to the flu vaccine are extremely rare. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu, reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization, and reduces children’s risk of developing life-threatening influenza. The CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, with early vaccination advised.